NLEX nearly suffered a monumental collapse before Ian Sangalang and RR Garcia came through in the clutch to edge out Big Chill, 69-62, Thursday to force a deciding Game 3 in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup semifinals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Road Warriors tied the best-of-three series at 1-1 with the victory in what was supposed to be a convincing fashion.
NLEX appeared headed for an easy victory posting a 41-20 lead at the half and even led by 24 points but the Superchargers inched their way back and even enjoyed a one-point lead in the fourth period.
Sangalang and Garcia, however, nailed crucial baskets in the end game for the Road Warriors to capture the victory.
With the Game 2 victory, the Road Warriors bounced back from an 83-66 defeat in Game 1, the most lopsided loss in franchise history.
“It shows that the boys never give up. With the big loss that we had and the small winning margin that we have, it’s big for our team. I hope that we can carry this one in Game 3,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
Game 3 is set Tuesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Sangalang had a game-high 21 points while Garcia added 15 points. They accounted for 11 of NLEX’s 16 markers in the fourth period.
After Sangalang converted a basket for a 51-27 lead, NLEX scored just one field goal as Big Chill tallied 16 points to end the third period trailing by 10 points, 53-43.
NLEX would again hit just a field goal in the first six minutes of the fourth as Raymond Maconocido capped off a 14-3 run with a three-point play putting Big Chill ahead, 57-56, with 3:57 left in the game.
The Road Warriors got the upper hand quickly with Garcia and Sangalang uncorking eight straight points. Sangalang nailed a sweeping fade away shot to post a seven-point advantage, 64-57.
Raffy Reyes added a three to come to within four points and Big Chill never wavered in its comeback try. But after Sangalang missed two free throws with 31.8 seconds to play, Emman Monfort kept the ball alive with an offensive board giving NLEX another possession.
Garcia was fouled after Monfort’s offensive rebound and hit two free throws to seal the victory.
NLEX slightly won the rebounding battle, 50-47, with Cliff Hodge grabbing 12 rebounds and Sangalang with eight. The Road Warriors also outlasted the Superchargers on the break, 18-4.
Big Chill coach Arsenio Dysangco said that NLEX’s physicality affected his wards in the first half but remained optimistic for Game 3.
“We dug ourselves in a big hole in the first two quarters with the physicality and I was surprised that we were caught off guard. But with the way we came back means that we can beat NLEX,” said Dysangco.
Jewel Ponferada recorded 14 points and 13 rebounds, Keith Jensen had 12 points and six rebounds while Alex Mallari had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Big Chill.
NLEX 69—Sangalang 21, Garcia 15, Hodge 11, Lanete 10, Ellis 4, Hermida 2, Arao 2, Monfort 2, Marcelo 1, Co 1.
BIG CHILL 62—Ponferrada 14, Jensen 12, Mallari 11, Reyes 8, Collado 7, Custodio 5, Maconocido 3, Dizon 2, Santos 0, Glorioso 0, Tan 0.
Quarters: 21-9, 41-20, 53-43, 69-62.